Tater Joes Old Time Musical Mercantile

Old Time Clawhammer Banjo Tabs

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Transcribed by Ken Torke

These are all pretty straight-ahead, frailing style banjo tabulatures. They have most of the melody but aren't fancy, up and down the neck melodic solos. I often add drop thumbs, hammer-ons and pull-offs when I play but don't always add those simple variations here. Likewise, sometimes I add too much of the melody here and end up dropping some out (usually the off beat melody notes) and adding more chords (bum-dittys) when I play up to speed with others. If something seems to complicated for you then do the same!

Small dates indicate new additions, corrections or other updates. Everything else was here before 07/12/14. I've tried to identify the source or author but I haven't done exhaustive research.

NOTE: Hammer-On vs Alternate String Pull-Off. Fretted vs Open Strings. I've been told that I should depend more on the latter in both cases. You'll notice that in recent transcriptions and updates that I have done so. You, of course, must choose what works best for you and substitute the way you want to get to the note.

FAQ - What's up with the parentheses?

  • If they are in a stack of notes (a chord) they are optional. So you could brush the whole chord but you might lose a bit of the melody. As your right hand gets more nuanced you might find yourself just playing the melody note (which isn't a bad place to start) or putting some of the chord tones in there but still emphasizing the melody note. You'll also find that sometimes when you are just playing the melody note the banjo sounds quite a bit better if you are holding down the chord (even if you don't play the other notes). You also might just miss the note you mean to hit or catch the adjacent strings so it's an advantage to have them be notes in the chord. A lot of clawhammer banjo players don't use this much, I think it's a benefit to hold down a chord, or partial chord, if it's easy.

  • They are optional notes because they are melody notes that the fiddle might play but they are not the core of the melody. You don't have to play them to convey the melody and it might even sound better, or at least less cluttered, to leave them out. These notes most often happen on the off beat. (HINT: there are a lot of notes that could be optional but I don't put parentheses on them.) I usually put a majority of the fiddle notes in the tabs because I enjoy learning them that way. However, I frequently drop them out if it is a fast tune or as a variation. The beginners or less agile people that use my tabs might have an easier time if they skip the optional notes...and it will still sound good. If I have two versions in a tab it will typically be a more melodic verison then one where the "extra" notes have been left out and simpler moves.

  • They can be the first part of an ASPO (Alternate String Pull Off) or an ASHO (the seldom used Alternate String Hammer On) where the note isn't played but the string is plucked (or hammered on) in the next beat thus sounding the note.